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Tom Russell
INDIANS COWBOYS HORSES DOGS
(Hightone)
Stars graphics

Itís more than the glint of nostalgia that allows this collection of Western songs to go down so easy. Songwriter Russell has just enough dust and sagebrush in his throat to make these stories about hangings and frontier injustice, star-crossed lovers, bloody battles, gunfighters and outlaws, and faithful canines ring like first-person history. The playing is trim and expert throughout, especially on Dylanís "Seven Curses," where Andrew Hardinís fluid, clean-toned lead guitar underpins the dark tale of betrayal.

But itís really the quavering notes in Russellís voice that pump new blood into "El Paso," the late Marty Robbinsís classic story of love and death, and "East Texas Red," Woody Guthrieís yarn about the mean railroad agent. Fellow troubadours Joe Ely and Eliza Gilkyson join in singing Dylanís "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts." Despite the high percentage of covers, itís Russell tunes like the cowboy rally "Tonight We Ride," the sentimental "No Telling," and "Bucking Horse Moon," which is full of beautiful high-country imagery, that set the unabashedly romantic tone for this album, his 19th.

(Tom Russell and Andrew Hardin appear tonight, April 15, at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Harvard Square; call 617-492-7679.)

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: April 16 - 22, 2004
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